Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff suggests during a talk in New York that a fundamental paradigm shift is under way, with the decade-old era of desktop-based Internet giving way to mobile Internet, and social networking services such as Facebook redefining how people live their lives. In that spirit, new releases from Salesforce, including Salesforce Chatter, attempt to bring a similar sense of collaboration to cloud-based enterprise tools.
NEW YORK-Salesforce.com's upcoming Salesforce
offering a Facebook-like social collaboration platform for enterprise
workers, represents a substantial bet on the company's part that its
customers-and the enterprise in general-will want to embrace cloud-based
enterprise tools that behave like the social-networking applications workers
use to keep up with friends and family in their spare time.
Taking the stage during a high-profile presentation here April 8,
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff suggested
that it was time for enterprise applications such as the ones offered by his
company to take a philosophical page from Facebook, YouTube and other startups
of the past few years-companies that represent the forefront of the next
paradigm in cloud-based computing, which he termed, "Cloud 2."
"I know more about strangers on Facebook than I do about my own
employees," Benioff joked. "But that shows there are exciting new
models we can learn from."
Benioff went on to trace the progression of computing from 1960s mainframes
through desktops. "For the last 10 years, we've really been
participating in something really exciting: the desktop Internet
phenomenon," he said. "But something huge is happening in our
industry right now, and it happens every 10 years or so in our
industry. ... The door is opening, and we all have to go through
That door, apparently, is "a new mobile Internet revolution that's kind
of a transformation from the desktop Internet." As a demonstration of the
Internet's move in a direction that embraces mobility and social networking
sites such as Facebook, Benioff displayed a graph showing that social networking
users now surpass e-mail users: "E-mail is kind of the old system."
The new version of the cloud, Benioff said, is about real-time
collaboration, mobile devices, social applications and a social platform.
In the past, Benioff has used the platform of his high-profile presentations
to make similar predictions about the future of the enterprise cloud. During a
March 2009 speech here, the CEO insisted,
"Platforms are moving to a service. It's not just about apps; it's about
Salesforce Chatter will be released for customers sometime later in 2010,
although its beta preview has been expanded to more than 500 companies. It will
be included in all paid editions of Salesforce CRM
"We are in the era of Cloud 2, where social networking use has
surpassed e-mail, Facebook and YouTube use have outpaced search, and new mobile
devices like the iPad are creating entirely new ways to interact with
information," Benioff wrote in a statement ahead of the news conference.
"With today's announcement, Salesforce.com is advancing the shift to Cloud
2, where productivity gains are going to come from real-time collaboration
available on any device. We've seen the future of enterprise software, and it
looks more like Facebook on the iPad than Yahoo on the PC."
Salesforce executives suggested to eWEEK in a separate conversation that
applying a social networking philosophy to enterprise applications would bring
a certain amount of focus; just as Facebook users, for example, have granular
control over their lists of friends and information feeds, so too will
cloud-based enterprise applications be able to provide data and tools for
collaboration without overwhelming the user. With Chatter, for example, users
can decide which colleagues they want to bring into the loop to help tackle a
In addition, Salesforce is releasing AppExchange 2, which includes
social-enabled apps from companies such as FinancialForce.com and Genius.com.
Force.com Labs apps available for free through AppExchange 2's ChatterExchange
include ChatterViz, Chatter Case Triage, Chatter Mass Follower, Chatter
Timeline, Chatter Live Tag Cloud and Chatter + Google Alerts.